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Dickinson College updates on Spring 2021

Week of January 11, 2021

Title: Campus Update

Date: January 13, 2021

Dear Dickinson faculty and staff: 

Thank you for your hard work and resilience as we prepare to welcome some of our students back to our campus this month for a different kind of semester. For more than nine months, we have been dealing with this pandemic, and I know we are all tired. Please continue to follow health advice – staying physically distant, wearing a mask, avoiding crowds and engaging in frequent handwashing. We all must be vigilant about our community’s safety. By taking these steps for ourselves and our fellow Dickinsonians, we will be able to have a successful semester.

I wanted to update you on some of the work we are doing on campus and beyond to keep our community safe and healthy.

  • By Monday, January 25, a dashboard with information on the number of COVID-19 tests performed on campus, as well as the positivity rate, will be available at the top of the campus reopening section of our website. This information will be updated every weekday, so that you are aware of what is happening on campus.
  • Please be sure to complete the daily symptoms tracker in Gateway each day whether you are on campus or not. Also, please download the COVID Alert PA app on your phone.
  • Testing for employees who have been identified as being in close contact with others on our campus will begin in phases on January 19. More information will be coming on process.
  • The Wellness Center has hired a COVID-19 case manager who will conduct contact tracing with our students and assist with support of students in isolation and quarantine. Human Resource Services will continue to trace campus contacts for employees.
  • We are working with local and state government officials to urge them to include faculty along with other educators in the next phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution. We will keep you updated on that effort.
  • I chair the Vaccine Education and Distribution Task Force, an off-shoot of the Carlisle Community Action Network, which brings together elected officials, health care providers and emergency services professionals to be sure our community has accurate and timely public information, and to help with logistics of setting up vaccine clinics in our area. Local emergency managers encourage anyone who can help in this effort – either in an administrative capacity or in a medical role – to sign up through Serve.Pa.Gov. There is a need for both medical and non-medical volunteers.

We will continue to update you throughout the semester. Thank you for all you do for Dickinson, and especially for our students. We will get through this together.


Margee M. Ensign


Title: COVID-19 Update

Date: January 13, 2021

Dear Dickinson faculty and staff: 

As a follow up to this morning’s message, I want to be sure you have this information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. This website has up-to-date information, including the current phase of vaccinations as well as the location of vaccination providers.

On the CAN Vaccine Task Force call this afternoon, Michele Parsons, emergency operations manager for Cumberland County’s Department of Public Safety, said that she is “assuming” faculty are included in Phase 1B vaccinations, however we are working to verify this information.

It is critically important that everyone realizes this process is not well-coordinated right now and it is difficult to get comprehensive information. This is the main reason we formed the Vaccine Task Force—to help coordinate and share information.

We also learned on the call that a community COVID-19 testing event will take place at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center January 28 through February 1. Tests will be performed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The county website should have more information on this in the coming days.

We will continue to update you as we get more information and at least weekly. 


Margee M. Ensign


Title: Campus Update

Date: January 15, 2021

To our Dickinson Community: 

We are eagerly awaiting the start of the semester and the return of many more students to our campus next week. This is an exciting time, and one that illustrates just how nimble and adaptive we can be when we all work together. As exciting as this is, we need to remember that there is still a pandemic raging across this country, killing about 4,000 people daily. We must work together and be vigilant about practicing health and safety guidelines to protect ourselves and each other, and to allow us to go forward with an in-person semester. Please take time to read our Community Compact and the COVID-19 Addendum to our Community Standards so that you understand our expectations for the coming months.

Students will begin returning to campus on Wednesday, January 20, during scheduled times, and move in will continue through Sunday, January 24. We have also arranged for new students to sign in to the college in pods on Sunday after their arrival. While the sign-in ceremony will be much different, and attendance limited only to those participating, we know how important this tradition is to our students.

Pre-Arrival Testing

We have sent COVID-19 testing kits to students to complete before their arrival on campus. As a reminder, you must ship your sample 5-7 days before your arrival, and you cannot ship your sample on a Saturday or Sunday. The kits come with a prepaid label to ship to Everlywell by UPS overnight. Students with a January 20 arrival date should ship their test no later than Monday. If you do not receive a test kit by Monday, please complete and ship the test as soon as you are able. If you receive your test kit late but do not have time to complete it prior to coming to campus, please bring it with you. You will be able to move in at your scheduled time as long as you arrive during move-in hours. We will test you upon arrival through a different process.

Due to current delays with the U.S. Postal System, we have learned that some students have not yet received their Everlywell test kits. Domestic students with a January arrival date who had not yet registered their test kit were contacted on Thursday evening by Wellness Center staff to collect information about the status of the kit. Please make sure you have read that message and responded to the form appropriately.

For those domestic students arriving in February, we expect test kits will arrive in time for you to complete your test.

Students will then be tested twice weekly at the Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium (ATS). This video shows what to expect in the testing process. Please be sure to show up on time for your testing appointment. The testing process requires a health questionnaire to be completed online in advance of each test. Details on how to set this up will be sent separately.

Faculty and Staff

This week, we filed an application with the state Department of Health to distribute the vaccine. We also confirmed today that our faculty and staff are included in phase 1b of the state’s distribution process. Working with our community partners, we are planning to have mass vaccination clinics locally once the county receives enough vaccines. The Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID Vaccine Provider Map lists health centers and hospitals that have, or are expected to receive, the vaccine. Sign-up information is provided for each location.

Beginning next week, faculty and staff who are in close contact with others on campus will be tested weekly at ATS. This video shows what to expect. The testing process requires a health questionnaire to be completed online in advance of each test. Details on how to set this up and to schedule your first appointment will be sent separately.

Necessary Health and Safety Measures

Everyone must fill out the symptoms tracker every day, whether or not you come to campus, and download the COVID Alert PA app. Face coverings will be required when you may encounter anyone outside of those with whom you live.

Keeping a 6-foot distance from others, avoiding crowded spaces, and following proper handwashing practices will be vital to the health and safety of our community.

We will continue to update our Campus Reopening pages with information and send regular email updates. Beginning January 25, we will also have a COVID dashboard on these pages that will show testing numbers as well as positive cases.

As we move into yet another very different semester, we must remember that this pandemic won’t last forever. I know that we can work together to keep our campus and our community safe, and I am counting on every one of you to be a part of this effort.


Margee M. Ensign